Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it's about everything.

My Thoughts:
I loved this writing style. So much. It was just so funny, everything about it. I will admit that I was incredibly confused for a while about the whole "abridgment" thing. I had to visit Wikipedia to see if there even was an S. Morgenstern, which seems ridiculous in hindsight because I was pretty darn certain there were no countries ever called Florin or Guilder. And honestly, I was kind of sad that Goldman made up all that stuff about "his father" reading the original to him as a sick child. I don't know why. I guess I just thought it was sweet. It was a very effective gimmick. And the fact that I bought a lot of it must be the mark of a gifted writer, no? Or a really gullible reader.


I think everyone knows this story. Everyone has seen this movie and it's beloved. I mean, I love it. It's why I wanted to read the book. If you've seen the movie then you've got the book pretty much figured out; The screenplay was written by the author so they're basically the same. 

The characters are so wonderfully written. I love that each character feels like a different person. I hate when you read a book and every character's voice feels the same; You can't tell who's speaking. Not here. Goldman is masterful at that. Most of the time I didn't even need him to tell me who was saying what because I could recognize the tone of the speaker from what they were saying.

I will say I was kind of annoyed that Buttercup was dumb. I don't know why but I never picked up on that in the movie. Why can't a woman be beautiful and smart? Why do some men have such a hard time reconciling an intelligent woman who also happens to be nice to look at? Don't get it. It was funny to read, yes, but condescending. Especially since she was basically the only woman in the whole book.

I may have been a little bit in love with Westley. I think that's kind of the point of him. Except when he said chauvinistic/rude/condescending things to Buttercup. Then I wanted to kick him in the stomach. But overall he was highly entertaining; The things he said were just funny. In fact, most of what most of them said was just funny. Dialogue was incredibly humorous. Inigo and Fezzik were my favorite, probably because they provided most of the comic relief. 

And now back the overarching story gimmick: I think the reason I was so sucked in by the idea of Goldman having adapted a classic was that there were two very distinct writing styles going on here. There was the main story part (which, according to the novel, had been written by Morgenstern) and the Introduction and little parts where Goldman claims to have cut something out. They just felt so different! I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that an author would use that as a story gimmick. He did it so well. And I'd never seen it done before. Has anyone does it since? I don't even know. It was such an original, clever idea. And it just added to the humor and fun with Goldman explaining, in detail, passages he had cut and why. Although I'm kind of glad all the "personal" stories Goldman shared about his "wife" and "son" weren't real. Because then I would have felt bad for all of them. 

Anyway, good read. Really funny. Very original. A classic, in its' own right. 

Language: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild
Violence: Heavy (fight scenes, death scenes, torture scenes)
Drugs/Alcohol: Mild (a scene of poisoning, wine)

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